It is a known fact that by destroying human cells, free radicals cause pathological changes, diseases, cancers in the human body. Free radicals are active and aggressive materials that can be produced during the metabolic process, but environment pollution, smoking and the consumption of alcohol also generate them in an excessive way. According to researches we can fight them most effectively with antioxidants. The most well-known antioxidants are certain vitamins and various bright-coloured substances that can be found in red fruits. Besides fruits, mushrooms in general are also rich in antioxidants, which means that with the regular consumption of mushrooms we can do a lot to protect our body. White button mushroom, cultivated in the greatest quantity of all kinds of mushrooms, contains specifically many antioxidants, much more than some vegetables that are anyway considered healthier than mushrooms.
One of the most important antioxidant in mushrooms is selenium. Cultivated white button mushrooms are characterised by a high content of selenium, 100g of mushroom contains 10 μg of it, which can cover 10% of the selenium needs of a human body. Selenium facilitates the protection of cells against some harmful effects caused by free radicals. It also slows the aging process, enhances the immune as well as the hormone system. Moreover, it has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system as well. Chronic selenium deficiency leads to different types of severe diseases. In the case of patients with selenium deficiency, various cardiovascular diseases, arteriosclerosis, low defense against pathogens are common, but it can also cause diabetes and arthritis.
In white button mushrooms the antioxidant called ergothionein occurs in the greatest quantity. In the past it was thought that the most important sources of this antioxidant are chicken liver and wheat germ. In white button mushrooms the amount of ergothionein is four times more than in chicken liver and twelve times more than in wheat germ. Portobello mushrooms contain even more of this antioxidant, and shiitake is considered to be a great source of ergothionein as well. As it has strong antioxidant features, the regular consumption of mushrooms can reduce the risk of chronic diseases. This substance is an efficient remedy for various cancers, besides, it also has antiviral effect and it is known to reduce high blood pressure and regulate the blood sugar of the body. A great benefit of the antioxidant is that it does not fall apart while cooking, which means cooked mushroom dishes are as valuable as the raw ones.
The antioxidant effect of mushrooms is enhanced by various useful molecules as well as tocopherols, flavonoids, carotenoids.